National efforts have described the need for students to develop scientific proficiency and have identified informal learning environments, interactive technologies, and an understanding of inquiry as ways to support this development. The Habitat Tracker project was developed in response to this need by developing a digitally-supported, inquiry-oriented curriculum focused on engaging elementary students in science practices in formal and informal settings. This study employed a mixed methods approach to explore how engagement in the project affected 125 fourth and fifth grade elementary students’ views of scientific inquiry and if certain aspects of scientific inquiry were shaped by student participation. The Views of Scientific Inquiry – Elementary School Version (VOSI-E), was administered before and after students had engaged with a three week Habitat Tracker curriculum and assessed aspects including the role of questions, diversity of methods, experiments and investigations, developing scientific explanations, supporting scientific explanations, predictions and hypotheses, role of subjectivity, role of creativity, and goal of science. VOSI-E responses were analyzed using a mixed methods approach. Chi-squared test results suggest that classroom learning coupled with visits to a wildlife center can help improve student understanding of scientific inquiry when integrated with technology-enhanced, field-based inquiries that emphasize the practices of science.
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